John Edgar Tidwell

Award-winning poet, critic to speak on innovative African American verse

Wed, 07/13/2011
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LAWRENCE — Aldon Nielsen, an award-winning poet and critic, will speak July 20 at the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas at 7 p.m.

Nielsen is the George and Barbara Kelly Professor of American Literature at Pennsylvania State University. His lecture is titled: “Experiments in Black: Innovative African American Verse Practice.”

Beginning July 11, Nielsen will be teaching a two-week summer Institute for Rethinking Literature in the Department of English. The institute sponsors scholars using cutting-edge approaches to literary study.

Nielsen has published five collections of poetry, including “Mixage,” “Vext,” “Stepping Razor,” “Evacuation Routes” and “Heat Strings.”

He has received numerous awards, including the Larry Neal Award for poetry and two Gertrude Stein Awards for innovative poetry.

Nielsen’s book, “Reading Race: White American Poets and the Racial Discourse in the Twentieth Century,” published in 2008, won the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Studies Prize, a Myers Citation and the Kayden Award for best book in the humanities at the University of Colorado.

In “Reading Race,” Nielsen examines the work of 20th century white American poets such as Carl Sandburg, Adrienne Rich, Ezra Pound and Allen Ginsberg, arguing that within their poetry and casual writings exists a body of literature that transmits racism, even as it sometimes speaks against it.

His other books include “Writing Between the Lines: Race and Intertextuality,” “C.L.R. James: A Critical Introduction,” “Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism” and “Integral Music: Languages of African American Innovation.” He is the co-editor of “Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry by African American Artists.”

John Edgar Tidwell, KU professor of English, said: “Aldon Nielsen has been absolutely uncanny in establishing new ways of thinking about and writing experimental poetry. His scholarship pushes the boundaries of oral traditions and music into new realms of creative and critical expression. Our summer seminar and the KU community are quite fortunate to attract such a distinguished talent to our campus.”

His talk is sponsored by the English department and the Hall Center for the Humanities.

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